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Do serial verb constructions describe single events? A study of co-speech gestures in Avatime

Defina, R. (2016). Do serial verb constructions describe single events? A study of co-speech gestures in Avatime. Language, 92(4), 890-910. doi:10.1353/lan.2016.0076.
Serial verb constructions have often been said to refer to single conceptual events. However, evidence to support this claim has been elusive. This article introduces co-speech gestures as a new way of investigating the relationship. The alignment patterns of gestures with serial verb constructions and other complex clauses were compared in Avatime (Ka-Togo, Kwa, Niger-Congo). Serial verb constructions tended to occur with single gestures overlapping the entire construction. In contrast, other complex clauses were more likely to be accompanied by distinct gestures overlapping individual verbs. This pattern of alignment suggests that serial verb constructions are in fact used to describe single events.

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